Right-Wing Groups Attack American Bar Association’s Proposed Racial Diversity Guidelines

This coming summer, members of the American Bar Association will vote on new guidelines that would require member law schools to demonstrate they are taking steps to increase the racial diversity of their student bodies and faculties. If they fail to take these steps, the law schools would risk losing their accreditation from the ABA. The new guidelines were proposed after ABA statistics documented an alarming decline in black enrollments at law schools in the United States.

This past week, three right-wing organizations have asked the U.S. Department of Education to strip the ABA of its accrediting authority if it approves the new guidelines. In letters to the Department of Education, officials at the Center for Equal Opportunity, the National Association of Scholars, and the Center for Individual Rights say that the ABA is using its authority “to coerce law schools into using racial, ethnic, and sex discrimination and preferences in the selection and treatment of students and faculty.”

The letter, from Roger Clegg at the Center for Equal Opportunity, pointed out that the Supreme Court Grutter decision allows racial preferences but does not require them. According to Clegg, the new ABA guidelines will force law schools to use racial preferences.

The letter from Stephen H. Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars, was even more direct. It read, “It is difficult to avoid the interpretation that the ABA is attempting to pressure law schools into breaking the law.”

Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.